Packaged FINDINGS: STōK Iced Coffee Stokes the Competition with Standout Design

Posted on Dec 1, 2016 by


Innovation in product development and packaging is experiencing a period of flourish as manufacturers capitalize on opportunities for expanded product utilization and/or enhanced convenience.

For example, until recently, if you wanted iced coffee, you brewed your own or sought out the skills of a trained barista; however, bottled iced coffees now have their own category, alongside the ever-expanding options for coffee additives. As a non-coffee drinker, my tendency is to bypass this aisle on my way to bottled tea. However, this time as I buzzed past the coffee, it was STōK Iced Coffee that caused me to do a “stop and check”. The package not only caught my attention but also made me aware of the scope of choices available in bottled coffee and additives. When did this become such a crowded category?


Once again it strikes me that the package that stands out from the noise of the competition is the one with the direct, clean and most straightforward design approach. Built on a strongly vertical grid that draws you down and through communication and with a bold but calm color palette, STōK  separates itself immediately from competing brands. The brand is the single most important communication element on the bottle, supported by minimal but purpose-driven copy that leaves no confusion as to what the product is. The design grid is repeated uniformly across product flavor and style variations, using color cues to make it simple to distinguish between variables and the label design is punctuated but yet grounded with a cold drip icon to enhance continuity. The simple bottle shape has been designed to make it ergonomically comfortable to handle and yet provide the largest possible display space or color field on the shelf.stok

Graphics aside, the use of color on the STōK packaging was a risk that succeeded. In design, you have to be cautious about colors becoming “consumed” by other colors. For example, white copy on a soft pastel background lacks contrast, making the copy virtually impossible to read. The STōK color pallet is based on deep, bold colors but in the right values so that the black typography used throughout the packaging copy remains highly legible and impactful on shelf. If there were an area that could use attention, it would be the copy within the base line band, which becomes so small and distorted by the contours in the bottle shape that it is unreadable. The same holds true for the ingredient copy. It might be good to consider the purpose of the convex ridges in the container and the impact they have on graphics or to consider relocating the copy to improve typographic legibility.

I love having options – it makes shopping fun. This package genuinely stands out on shelf and in its category, and it did provide enough cues and intrigue for me to make a purchase. Looking at the competitive coffee packaging, I was left asking what is most important – additives, flavoring or the brewing? STōK packaging directly answers the question for consumers, focusing on the low and slow cold brewing in communicating its key product benefit. That is the sole purpose of great design and a well thought out packaging design system; Simple elements and simple messaging. It worked – so well that I might have a cold coffee to celebrate.

If you are looking for breakthrough packaging that is designed and produced to succeed, we invite you to check out our packaging design capabilities and click here or contact us at 920-725-4848 or

The purpose of our “findings” blog is to spotlight packaging that displays thinking that breaks the mold delivers something new or chancy – or at the very least, highlights packaging that catches your eye in the retail environment.